Bike Shopping

So, I’m looking for a dual-sport motorcycle.  I ask around on message boards what to look for and the answers are pretty much the same. Get a smaller bike, buy used, stay under $2k.  The reasoning behind this is that most riders will drop the bike at first and a smaller bike is less likely to hurt you and is easier to lift.  Used because the dings will really hurt the value of a new bike.  Under $2k because you will be recoup most of your investment when you sell it.

In my case one of the most important critera is seat height.  Experienced riders often ride bikes that do not allow them to touch both feet at once but I don’t have that level of competence or flexibility yet.  I mocked up a fixture that let me determine the maximum height of saddle where I could get the balls of both booted feet on the ground.  The magic number was 32″.  Dual sport bikes have race sag meaning the saddle is lower when the rider sits on the bike.  Armed with this knowledge, I start looking for bikes with a seat height of 34″ or less in static mode.

So I start looking for a good used bike like a Yamaha XT225 or XT250 or Kawasaki KL250 or KLR250.

I start checking Craigslist and CycleTrader to get a good idea of the market.  Evidently lots of folks like these bikes because there are few of them listed for under $2k that aren’t beaten to a pulp.

After almost a year of checking, a 2004 KLR250 comes up for sale in town.  In good shape, 7,300 miles, and $1400.  Sold!  I am a motorcycle owner again after 40 years.


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I had an old unloved Dell Inspiron 1300 laptop sitting around.  With a Pentium M processor, 1 gb of RAM and a 40 gb hard drive, this was not worth trying to upgrade to most modern operating systems but it was perfect for one I’ve been wanting to try, Peppemint Three.  This distro is Ubuntu/Mint based, uses the lightweight LXDE window manager and is very web-centric which suits me to a tee.  I made a Linux Live bootable USB drive and this distro worked perfectly despite not being officially supported by LiLi.  Everything on the old 1300 worked perfectly (I did not try hibernation) so I installed it to the hard drive.

As I suspected, this is a very responsive distro on the old hardware.   It is also easy to use for those who have used Ubuntu or Linux Mint.  The LXDE desktop environment feels very familiar to Gnome 2 users as does the software manager from Linux Mint.

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Not Happy with Dell Anymore

I’ve purchased Dell equipment for my company for years but that will probably stop, at least for servers & storage.  Recently, I had a hard drive failure in a Dell R710 server.  The drive was a 1TB SATA by Seagate.  I had purchased the 3 year NBD warranty with this equipment.  I was informed that warranty on SATA drives was only 1 year, no matter what warranty I purchased.  To make matters worse, trying to purchase a drive from Dell to replace the failed one was an exercise in futility.  They kept delaying the ship date and finally just cancelled the order.  After 3 weeks, I had to go elsewhere to purchase a new drive.

After that, I had a SATA drive go out in an MD1000 expansion enclosure.  The drive was still under warranty and they shipped me a new drive by the next day.  So far so good except the new drive gave me a “Uncertified Disk” error.  I updated the MDSM software to the latest version and downloaded and the latest firmware for enclosures and disks.  Still no joy.  Turns out they shipped me a Seagate ST31000340AS drive which is not supported.  I called them back and reported this.  They kept telling me they had shipped me a Hitachi drive and it took awhile to convince them it wasn’t.  They had to establish a remote session and look at the MDSM report themselves to believe it.  They did send me a replacement which arrived the next day.  This one was a Seagate  ST1000NM0011 which is the new replacement for the ST31000340AS.  This one was recognized and the RAID started rebuilding.

The good new is that the ST1000NM0011 is readily available at several stores and I ordered two for spares.  The bad news is that I have six of the old ones in a R710 server and 14 of them in the MD1000.  The ones in the R710 are out of warranty and the MD 1000 will be out of warranty in 80 days.

Dell goes to great lengths to claim they charge so much for enterprise SATA drives because they do such extensive vetting.  If that is the case, why do they only warrant them for one year when they come with a 5 year warranty from Seagate?

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RIP Pinetop Perkins

We lost one of the legends.  Pinetop Perkins died in Austin, Texas at age 97.  There is no telling how many great piano solos were played by this man over the course of an amazing 8 decades.

Goodbye, Pinetop.  Your mojo worked great for us.

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More Firefox 4 Goodies

Here is an article listing 10 goodies you get with Firefox 4.  Some aren’t a big priority for me, for instance I don’t normally have a problem with tab clutter, but there are plenty of good things there to make the upgrade worthwhile for Firefox fans.

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IE9, Firefox 4, & Chrome 10

OK, it has been a long time since I’ve been impressed by a browser.  Now we have three new browsers that make a real difference in how I use the internet.  This is just a first impression, superficial type of review until I get to use them all more or less equally.

I’ve used IE9 beta and rc versions for awhile now but it is available only for Vista and Win7.  I spend the least amount of my computing time on those OSes so I don’t have a deep understanding of it.  I just downloaded the stable version yesterday and have spent just a few minutes with it.  I’ll start by saying this is the best MS effort yet.  The speed and interface are much improved.  That said, it is still my least favorite of the three.  If you have to use MS for ActiveX and other features, this is the one to use.  IF you have Win7 or Vista.

Google Chrome 10.  Wow.  I was shocked at how fast this browser was.  Chrome 9 wasn’t a slouch but 10 blows it away.  In the Chrome tradition, the interface is minimal.  I added the favorites bar and it still takes up very little room.  Apps and extensions make this browser soar above IE for me.  The fact that it is available for Linux and XP (It is also available for Mac but I don’t have one.)  really pushes IE9 down my list.  The sync feature works very well and is very simple which makes it my #1 choice on all my machines.

Firefox 4 is another great choice.  It too  is a speed demon with a ton of extensions available.  The interface is a bit more familiar and user friendly for me.  I haven’t got the sync to work right yet, so I’m liking Chrome 10 better at the moment.  That may change when the stable version is released so I’m not ruling it out.  Firefox is also available for Mac, Linux and XP.

As the web starts to fill up with HTML5 goodies, these browsers will really shine.

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A Bargain for Techies


I just renewed my MS Technet Pro subscription. This is a great bargain if you work in any kind of tech. For about $280 a year you can access & download almost any MS software for evalualtion and testing.  You can easily save that much if it saves you from buying one piece of software that doesn’t work out.  Added to that are a lot of benefits such as E-learning courses, two free support calls, and a lot more.  The FAQ page gives the terms of use. 

I bag on MS a lot but this is one of the things they do right.

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